We Walked the Sky

We Walked the Sky

A multigenerational story about two teenagers: Victoria, who joins the circus in 1965, and her granddaughter, Callie, who leaves the circus fifty years later.In 1965 seventeen-year-old Victoria, having just escaped an unstable home, flees to the ultimate place for dreamers and runaways--the circus. Specifically, the VanDrexel Family Circus where, among the lion tamers, rou...

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Title:We Walked the Sky
Author:Lisa Fiedler
Rating:
Edition Language:English

We Walked the Sky Reviews

  • Finley

    I received an advanced reader’s copy of this novel for free from Razorbill through a giveaway hosted on GoodReads.

    “If you find it, then it’s meant to be.” That, along with the many other lessons written down by Victoria Van Drexel, and later found by her granddaughter Callie, is the driving force behind Lisa Fielder’s

    Told in alternating viewpoints, it tells the story of two generations of young women as they learn that life does not always go as you plan, but that where you en

    I received an advanced reader’s copy of this novel for free from Razorbill through a giveaway hosted on GoodReads.

    “If you find it, then it’s meant to be.” That, along with the many other lessons written down by Victoria Van Drexel, and later found by her granddaughter Callie, is the driving force behind Lisa Fielder’s

    Told in alternating viewpoints, it tells the story of two generations of young women as they learn that life does not always go as you plan, but that where you end up in the process is often exactly where you are meant to be.

    The books open in the 1950’s, the night a girl by the name of Catherine Hastings runs away from home. Catherine is the daughter of an abusive father and husband, and as her mother sits dying, she tells her to

    , to escape from this home where she will no longer be protected and find her own life. Under the alias of Victoria, she joins the circus as a way to get far away from where her father will ever find her, and eventually find a job and apartment. However, the longer she spends with the circus, the more she finds herself among a family who will love and protect her as much as she deserves, as well as that she’s falling in love with a young lion tamer whose own heart is breaking as one of his big cats grows slowly weaker with age and disease.

    In the modern day, Victoria’s granddaughter find herself far from home as well, but not of her own volition. Following her grandmother’s death, Calliope is forced to follow her mother to an animal sanctuary where Quinn will be helping to take care of former circus animals, including the former animals of the Van Drexel Family Circus, as more big tops choose (or are forced) to stop including animal acts in their program. Growing up in the circus, Callie’s whole life is her performances on the high wire, and she would do anything to keep herself from being forced to live on the ground. Attending public high school for the first time, Callie makes a number of new friends who are fascinated by her upbringing and talents, including a girl named Jenna who is determined to help keep the Sanctuary open, despite widespread concerns that the exotic creatures it houses may be a danger. As she grows accustom to normal teenage life, she also begins to learn that being a solo act isn’t always what it’s cut out to be, and that sometimes you have to stop being the main attraction and instead become the safety net to catch your loved ones when they fall.

    This book resonated with me so much. For a long time now, I have loved the circus, and dreamed of what it would be like to walk the high wire or perform aerial feats of wonder, or even to be a clown, so the chance to see the unique relationships and challenges that happen behind the scenes was fascinating. I also grew up in a home with an abusive father, so Victoria’s story of escaping from her hostile home environment to a more loving found family was the sort of thing I dreamed of. And although I have never been the new kid like Callie, her story of finding yourself in an unfamiliar environment and learning to accept the hand you’re given instead of trying to chase a perfect life that remains just out of reach reminded me of my current struggles to enter the adult world, no matter how much mental illness and personal struggles tempt me to remain curled up in bed here I can pretend to be a kid forever. From the very first page of this novel, I fell in love, as both stories are so relatable, despite how unique the details. When I was not reading the book, I wanted to be reading it, because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Victoria and Callie next.

    One thing I will admit to is that I initially like Victoria’s chapters more than Callie’s, and it have nothing to do with the fact Victoria was actively part of the circus in hers. Early in the book, I found a lot of the people in Callie’s life annoying, and was afraid I would not enjoy her story as much as her grandmother’s. While Victoria’s story is one of overcoming struggle and finding love and happiness, and was therefore populated by kind and likeable people, Callie just came off a bit whiny and self-absorbed at first, and the other teens she encountered didn’t give me much hope either. Jenna’s decision to barge into Callie’s home, and then her life, seemed shocking and rude, and most of her other classmates seemed initially like the stereotypical teen drama players: the queen bee, the love interest, the stock friend group, etc. I was expecting for Callie to have a Mean Girls-esque story where she learns who her real friends are, gets the guy, curtains, roll credits, eye roll. However, the deeper I got into the story, the more I realized how much more there was to both the story and the people in it. Callie being too focused on her own disappointments to clearly see the people around her was the whole point of her as a character, and Jenna’s brash actions after meeting Callie were to hide the pain she was trying to escape, rather than to shoehorn her into the narrative. The other characters also came alive as being people with their own lives and goals, though the fact Callie’s sections story were mainly focused on her person growth as she learns to understand the personal struggles both her mother and Jenna are also going through was refreshing and a pleasant surprise. As both stories began to reach their peaks, I found myself just as invested in Callie’s friendships and the fate of the Sanctuary as I had been in Victoria’s adventures in the circus, and I found both narratives and their conclusions extremely satisfying and memorable.

    Obviously, I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who is as interested in the workings and history of the circus as I am. The two eras that the story covers each exhibit very real problems that the circus faced in their day. For Victoria, it was the corporatization of the formerly family shows, and the problem of some circuses abusing their animals instead of treating them like living creatures, and for Callie it is the uncertain future of the circus now that exotic animal shows are falling out of favor, and whether the human and common domesticated animal performances will be enough to keep the whole industry from caving in. It presents an interesting look into the old adage “the show must go on”, as it demonstrates how hard those who live, work, and grew up in the circus try to keep it all together and put on a brave face, even when the world seems against them. Furthermore, it is also an excellent novel for anyone going through their own uncertainties in life, who may not be making such a drastic change as going from the circus to normal life or vice versa, but who may be having similar upheavals due to starting a new school, a new job, or a new stage of life. It is appropriate for teens, but also has a mature enough treatment of the story to be enjoyable to adults as well. It is a book I highly recommend to anyone who has the chance to read it, as I loved he story immensely and hope it is successful when it reaches wide release in July.

    On a final note, if you enjoyed this book, I recommend considering

    by Ellen Marie Wiseman as your next read, especially if your reason for reading this book was for its circus themes. The Life She Was Given using a similar format of switching narratives, one of a girl who becomes a part of the circus and the other of a later family member learning secrets about them after their death through what was left behind, though they depict different time periods and different views of the circus, as Lilly’s narrative in TLSWG is of being sold by her mother to a circus side show during the Great Depression rather than joining of her own choice. Given that detail, I would caution that TLSWG is a much more adult book and provides a darker and grittier image of circus life, so it requires the reader to be a bit more mature than WWtS. However, if after learning this (and perhaps doing a bit of research into the subjects it covers, as there are a few upsetting scenes), you still find yourself interested, then I am sure you will find it as informative a glimpse into history as We Walked the Sky was.

  • Hannah Greendale

    🌟 THIS BOOK HAS AWARD-WINNER WRITTEN ALL OVER IT. 🌟

  • Ally (The Nature of Pages)

    The vintage feel of Victoria's perspective adds so much to the story. In the wake of my The Greatest Showman obsession, this felt like nostalgia and a hug all wrapped up into one book. I adored Victoria's parts of the book and eagerly waited to see what was next.

    We Walked the Sky is an absolute piece of art. ART, I tell you!From Victoria's whimsical dreams of freedom and Callie's longing for her place she calls home, the book is a siren song to all who know what it feels like to dream of adventu

    The vintage feel of Victoria's perspective adds so much to the story. In the wake of my The Greatest Showman obsession, this felt like nostalgia and a hug all wrapped up into one book. I adored Victoria's parts of the book and eagerly waited to see what was next.

    We Walked the Sky is an absolute piece of art. ART, I tell you!From Victoria's whimsical dreams of freedom and Callie's longing for her place she calls home, the book is a siren song to all who know what it feels like to dream of adventure. The plot line kept me intrigued and interested, though I did find myself wishing there were more of Victoria's parts in between Callie's.

    The characters are cleverly thought-out and unique! I definitely relate to Victoria's point of view more though - she just has a delightful way of taking the reader's thoughts and voicing them on the page. Callie felt a tad distant and harder to connect to, but that's part of her personality played out on the page. All in all, wonderful character building and plot!

    We Walked the Sky is an amazing novel for the dreamers, the adventurers, and the hopeful! I cannot wait to read more of Lisa Fielder's books and see We Walked the Sky in bookstores everywhere!

  • Liz

    Who would have thought that a book about an abused girl running off to join the circus would turn out to be such a great read? This story had a lot to it. The characters (Catherine/Victoria, Callie, Jenna and all the rest ... including the animals) created such a warm and supportive environment that I couldn't keep a smile off my face as I read. I also thought it was an interesting way to present the advice from grandmother to granddaughter through the messages left on scraps of paper. We can al

    Who would have thought that a book about an abused girl running off to join the circus would turn out to be such a great read? This story had a lot to it. The characters (Catherine/Victoria, Callie, Jenna and all the rest ... including the animals) created such a warm and supportive environment that I couldn't keep a smile off my face as I read. I also thought it was an interesting way to present the advice from grandmother to granddaughter through the messages left on scraps of paper. We can all learn a lot from the positive life guidance scattered throughout the book. Although the back cover presents this as a story appropriate for the tween/teen, I found it to be a wonderful feel-good adult read as well.

    I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway for this honest review.

  • Paisley K

    Sixteen-year-old Catherine Hastings despises her home life. The year is 1965– because of this, there’s no one Catherine can turn to when her socialite father secretly abuses herself and her sickly mother. One day, a carnival rolls into town; following her mother’s last words, Catherine flees the proper, painful world of her father and takes on the unknown head-first. Going by the alias Victoria Davis, she is quickly swept up in the VanDrexel Family Circus– a place of dazzling costumes, exotic a

    Sixteen-year-old Catherine Hastings despises her home life. The year is 1965– because of this, there’s no one Catherine can turn to when her socialite father secretly abuses herself and her sickly mother. One day, a carnival rolls into town; following her mother’s last words, Catherine flees the proper, painful world of her father and takes on the unknown head-first. Going by the alias Victoria Davis, she is quickly swept up in the VanDrexel Family Circus– a place of dazzling costumes, exotic animals and talented performers. As she learns to walk on a tightrope, she also discovers not only the skill, but also the love and heartbreak that it takes to be a part of such a unique family.

    Fifty years later, Calliope “Callie” VanDrexel adores growing up in the circus. She’s billed as one of the most gifted tightrope walkers in the world– an impressive feat for a fifteen-year-old. When she learns that her grandmother Victoria has died, however, Callie’s dreams are shattered. Callie’s world turns upside down as her mother forces her to move to suburban Florida, replacing magic and travel with monotony and public high school. At first, Callie is determined to run back to the VanDrexel circus; after all, the only time she feels free is when she’s sixty feet in the air. She has no intentions of staying in Florida, until she discovers a mysterious box filled with Victoria’s belongings. Thanks to its contents, Callie starts to find reasons to put down some roots.

    From the moment Victoria sees the fateful circus marching down her street, We Walked the Sky is magnetic in its telling. The coming-of-age stories of grandmother and granddaughter are told in parallel to one another, seamlessly weaving wisdom and emotions across half a century of family. Victoria and Callie are both stellar protagonists; each girl grows significantly in both empathy and maturity, but each retains her quiet confidence along the way.

    Even more spellbinding are the settings, and the characters that come along with them. Fiedler adds a sense of whimsical realism to not only the VanDrexel circus, but also animal sanctuaries, department stores lost to time and even a run-down school. The locations are made charming by the supporting characters that accompany them– after all, what’s a lion without his dashing tamer, or a pizza place without its plucky employee? Enchanting and true, We Walked the Sky is a perfect summer read filled with compassion and sparkle.

    Instagram: @paisleys.picks

  • Tess (Book_Voyage)

    This book is phenomenal. It is one of the best books I have ever read by far. This multigenerational story follows Victoria Davis (neé Catherine Hastings) on her newfound life at the circus and finding her life’s passion. The story also follows Victoria’s granddaughter, Calliope VanDrexel on figuring out her life after leaving the circus.

    Catherine Hastings runs away from her horrible home life to join the circus, figuring she will leave once she is far enough from home. She adopts a new name, V

    This book is phenomenal. It is one of the best books I have ever read by far. This multigenerational story follows Victoria Davis (neé Catherine Hastings) on her newfound life at the circus and finding her life’s passion. The story also follows Victoria’s granddaughter, Calliope VanDrexel on figuring out her life after leaving the circus.

    Catherine Hastings runs away from her horrible home life to join the circus, figuring she will leave once she is far enough from home. She adopts a new name, Victoria Davis, to protect herself from being found by her father. However, she finds so much more in the circus than just transportation and a new life. It is there she discovers joy and love for the first time from a family who loves her just as much as she loves them.

    Callie VanDrexel was literally born into the circus life. When it is taken from her she mourns and stops at nothing to try and get it back. She is forced to live a “regular” life due to her mother taking a job at a wild animal sanctuary. Both girls learn important lessons along the way and become themselves.

    I do wish there was more about Calliope’s mother, Quinn Emily Sharon VanDrexel, aptly named for the three wonderful, strong women who were in Victoria’s life. I also wish there were more surrounding the romance between her and Callie’s dad, Marcello. However the romance between Victoria and James was adorable. I wish there was more of them together.

    There are also many wonderful euphemisms that I feel we can all apply to our lives. For example, “The show must go on, even when it’s not the show you expected to be in.” I took this to mean that our lives don’t always turn out as we plan them. We need to just roll with what comes and keep moving forward.

    “If you find it, then it’s meant to be.” I have been trying to figure out what my next dream in life will be. However, I know when I find it, it will be meant to be. This story was very inspiring for me and I feel a renewed sense of hope that I haven’t had in a long time.

    This book reminded me of my The Greatest Showman obsession (which I will never truly get over) and made me feel nostalgic and warm fuzzies all at once. Clearly I have a penchant for circus themed stories. I adored Victoria’s parts of the stories most and eagerly awaited to read what was next. This book had a wonderful interesting menagerie of characters. All of them were lovable and created a warm, and loving environment. I cannot wait to see what book this author writes next! I know it will be amazing. Also I clearly need to search for another circus themed read soon (which I will). I recommend this book to everyone, especially fans of The Greatest Showman or Water for Elephants.

  • Teresa

    This book was a slow start for me; I don't know why but once I found the rhythm of the voice I fell in love with the story. Told from a grandmother, Victoria, and her granddaughter, Callie, it focuses on what is important to these two woman while growing up in the circus.

    Victoria runs away from a horrible home life to join the circus, figuring she will leave when she is far from home. What she finds in the circus isn't just joy and love but a family that cares for her just as deeply as she cares

    This book was a slow start for me; I don't know why but once I found the rhythm of the voice I fell in love with the story. Told from a grandmother, Victoria, and her granddaughter, Callie, it focuses on what is important to these two woman while growing up in the circus.

    Victoria runs away from a horrible home life to join the circus, figuring she will leave when she is far from home. What she finds in the circus isn't just joy and love but a family that cares for her just as deeply as she cares for them.

    Callie is literally a child of the circus..born into it; so when it is taken away from her she mourns. Forced to live a "regular" life after her mother takes a job at a wild animal sanctuary Callie schemes to get back into the circus no matter the cost.

    Fiedler has written a lovely book that explores how two different women grow up and become themselves in this book...I fell in love with both of them!

    Thanks to Penguin for the ARC!

  • Tressie

    *I received an Advanced Reader Copy through my work, at a library.*

    **This review contains possible spoilers**

    If you liked The Greatest Show, you'll love this book. Full of lots of fun circus stories, interesting characters, and enticing story lines. Written in the style of split time, Calliope, or Callie, lives in current times Florida, after being pulled from the life she knew in the circus, while her grandmother's story is being told in alternating chapters, but when the grandmother is Callie'

    *I received an Advanced Reader Copy through my work, at a library.*

    **This review contains possible spoilers**

    If you liked The Greatest Show, you'll love this book. Full of lots of fun circus stories, interesting characters, and enticing story lines. Written in the style of split time, Calliope, or Callie, lives in current times Florida, after being pulled from the life she knew in the circus, while her grandmother's story is being told in alternating chapters, but when the grandmother is Callie's age. Victoria, Callie's grandmother, literally runs away to the circus, and finds not only the love of her life, but also what she was made to do: walking the tightrope.

    This story is written in a way that has long put me off: having competing story lines that alternate chapters typically bores me, but this story was sweet and interesting. While I did prefer Victoria's story to Callie's, I still found it beautiful as the two connected in a way. Pieces of Victoria's story line twisted with Callie's, and vice-versa. Overall, I did find both as being so set in their ways, so determined to get their way, that it was a little off-putting and very script. You knew that ultimately both girls wouldn't get what they were so determined to get, but I still found the story exciting and beautiful. The determination of both girls could be seen as strong and independent, but, especially in Callie's case, I found it annoying. I am not much older than these girls, and while I know that teens can exaggerate and push limits, Callie was obnoxious. She was also just a mean girl for a lot of it, being awful to her mother, the man employing her mom, and the only girl at her new school who actually cared. The only person Callie wasn't mean to was the cute boy. However, even with a cute boy in the story line, Callie's story ends up being more about her relationship with her mom and the girl from school, something I found endearing and refreshing.

    *CUE SPOILERS*

    The biggest issue I had was with Callie's story. The ending of hers felt rushed, and we don't find out what ultimately happens with her mother's job, which I found annoying. We can assume what happens, but it's not said, which leaves room for doubt.

    Overall, a good read. It did take me longer than normal to get through, simply because of the formatting, but I loved it. That being said, I couldn't imagine reading it as a teen. I think I would quickly lose interest.

    Also, be prepared to have "The Greatest Show" stuck in your head for days after.

  • Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

    A stunning, multigenerational story about two teenagers: Victoria, who joins the circus in 1965, and her granddaughter, Callie, who leaves the circus fifty years later. Perfect for fans of This is Us.

    In 1965 seventeen-year-old Victoria, having just escaped an uns

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

    A stunning, multigenerational story about two teenagers: Victoria, who joins the circus in 1965, and her granddaughter, Callie, who leaves the circus fifty years later. Perfect for fans of This is Us.

    In 1965 seventeen-year-old Victoria, having just escaped an unstable home flees to the ultimate place for dreamers and runaways--the circus. Specifically, the VanDrexel Family Circus where, among the lion tamers, roustabouts, and trapeze artists, Victoria hopes to start a better life.

    Fifty years later, Victoria's sixteen-year-old granddaughter Callie is thriving. A gifted and focused tightrope walker with dreams of being a VanDrexel high wire legend just like her grandmother, Callie can't imagine herself anywhere but the circus. But when Callie's mother accepts her dream job at an animal sanctuary in Florida just months after Victoria's death, Callie is forced to leave her lifelong home behind.

    Feeling unmoored and out of her element, Callie pores over memorabilia from her family's days on the road, including a box that belonged to Victoria when she was Callie's age. In the box, Callie finds notes that Victoria wrote to herself with tips and tricks for navigating her new world. Inspired by this piece of her grandmother's life, Callie decides to use Victoria's circus prowess to navigate the uncharted waters of public high school.

    Across generations, Victoria and Callie embrace the challenges of starting over, letting go, and finding new families in unexpected places.

    This was an interesting YA read that adults would also like - it was well written and the story was enjoyable to follow along with. (I am not sure of the "This is Us" angle being part of the story/appeal as I cannot stand that show, aside from Randall & family!) It was a different and interesting world to read about and the characters were well fleshed out and interesting - a good read for summer vacation for the kids!

    The cover??? AMAZING!!!!!!!!

    As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by Millennials on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it 🎪🎪🎪🎪

    NOTE: I STILL cannot link this review to LinkedIn - there is something wrong with the linking/programming and it will not happen.

  • Namrata

    I CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS NOVEL TO COME OUT! I've been really hyped about it ever since.

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